Three plug-in hybrid-electric Chrysler Town & Country minivans (earlier post) went into service with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), bringing to 25 the total number of such vehicles on US roads. With this completion of the demonstration fleet’s deployment, the second, data-collection phase of Chrysler Group LLC’s plug-in hybrid minivan project now begins.
|Components of the flex-fuel PHEV minivan. Click to enlarge.|
The focus shifts from engineering design and development to real-world testing and evaluation, said Abdullah Bazzi, senior manager of Chrysler Group’s advanced hybrid vehicle project. The plug-in hybrids will be subjected to temperature extremes and variations of drive cycles. Other deployments are in Arizona, North Carolina and Michigan.
Two additional plug-in hybrid minivans will be retained by Chrysler Group engineers. One of those vehicles will be subject to a short-duration test by Argonne National Laboratory.
The two-year project stems from a Chrysler Group’s partnership with the US Department of Energy (DOE). The DOE has invested $10 million to further the research.
Each plug-in hybrid Town & Country is equipped with an E85-compatible 3.6L Pentastar engine mated to a front-wheel-drive, two-mode hybrid transmission. It also is powered by a liquid-cooled 12.1 kWh lithium-ion battery supplied by Electrovaya. Total system output is 290 hp (216 kW) and total range is 700 miles (1,127 km).
The minivans have an electric drive range in the city of 22 miles, and charge depleting fuel economy (city) of 53 mpg US (4.43 l/100 km). Charge times are two-to-four hours at 220 volts with a Level 2 charge cord unit, and eight-to-15 hours at 110 volts with a Level 1 charge unit.
A fleet of plug-in hybrid Ram pickups also is being evaluated as part of a wider project. Chrysler Group dominates the minivan market, selling 13.4 million units globally since inventing the segment in 1983.